Seeds of Discontent
Schemes like PM-Kisan are only band-aids; structural reform alone will help farmers’ incomes double
The Journey So Far
The PM-Kisan scheme (Rs 6,000 per year as minimum income support) has been extended to cover all farmers. By August 29, three instalments had been released: the first instalment covered 62.9 million beneficiary farmers, second 36.3 million and third 721,982
The agriculture ministry has secured approval for a scheme to create 10,000 farmer producer organisations (FPOs)
A proposal for the revamp of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has been forwarded to the states (since agriculture is a state subject)
Enrolments for the pension scheme for small/ marginal farmers started. By August 30, 536,637 were enlisted.
Is It Enough?
According to a NITI Aayog paper, in real terms, farmers’ incomes grew at just 0.44 per cent per year between 2011 and 2016. Consider the snail-like progress in agriculture growth. In 2018-19, agriculture and allied activities growth is estimated at 2.7 per cent, down from 5 per cent in 2017-18. With such a low growth rate, coupled with the economic slowdown and feeble growth in farmer incomes, the measures so far will only add to short-term relief.
The Unfinished Agenda
The focus of agri policies must shift from production per se to farmers’ livelihoods
Despite promises of minimum support prices (MSP) plus 50 per cent to the farmers, procurement of grains and commodities under MSP is alarmingly low in most states
Measures needed to help farmers cope with the growing risks of weather, price volatility and lack of timely credit availability
Agri markets need better infrastructure and must be opened to greater competition if farmers are to realise better returns for their produce
Agricultural policies must benefit genuine farmers, not middlemen, as is the case today in most states
Policies to improve efficiency of land/ water use needed to conserve critical resources
SMILING ACRES Farmers in Mohanlalganj, Lucknow